Frequently asked question
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a Governing Body?
Every school has a governing body made up of various members of the community. There can be between 9 and 20 members. The governing body works closely with the Headteacher, who is responsible for the day to day management of the school. The governing body is part of the school leadership team, responsible for strategic planning and policy development. They work as a team to make sure the school provides a good quality education for all its pupils and they.
- support the school, but not uncritically
- explain its policies to parents and the community, but not blindly
- help to settle its disputes, fairly and conscientiously
- oversee its policies and its use of resources, but not in tiresome detail
How are Governing Bodies made up / Who are the members?
- Parents -Every governing body will include parent governors, in community schools all of these will be elected by parents in the school (unless there are fewer interested parents than there are places), In Voluntary Aided schools a proportion of these parents will be appointed by other governors from amongst parents in the school.
- School Staff - These will be elected by the staff at the school. All Governing Bodies have positions for teachers and most have a position for support staff.
- Headteachers are automatically entitled to be a member of the governing body but can choose if they wish to be a voting member or not.
- Local Authority (LA) Governors – These governors are appointed by the Local Authority. The authority advertises for LA governors and seeks to appoint members of the community who are interested in education and committed to being fully participating school governors.
- Community Governors – All Community School Governing Bodies have Community (previously known as Co-opted) Governors. These are appointed by the other members of the governing body from members of the Community. Some governing bodies ask for our help in finding people interested in filling these positions but it is entirely up to the governing body who they appoint.
- Foundation Governors – Voluntary Aided or Controlled Schools have Foundation Governors from the Foundation that originally established the school. They are usually (but not always) connected with the Church organisations. Some governors are appointed by the Diocesan Boards and some by various parish/parochial councils for the churches associated with the school.
Sponsor Governors – A few schools have a firm or organisations which gives substantial help to the school, whether financial or in kind. These schools can choose to have one or two sponsor governors in addition to the other categories.
Are Governors paid?
No, all governors are volunteers and there is no payment for carrying out the role. Some governing bodies operate schemes to reimburse governors for necessary expenses.
I don’t know anything about education so what could I offer?
It is important that governors come from a wide range of backgrounds. The school staff and many of the parents will have a knowledge of education. Governors from other areas of work or experience bring a vital outside view and can make suggestions and ask questions which might not be thought of by people closely involved with the school. Although schools may occasionally be looking for a governor with specific outside experience, finance or personnel for example, personal qualities, such as enthusiasm, tact and the willingness to listen and to ask questions are far more important than specific knowledge or experience. Individual governors will have different beliefs, values, views and experience to contribute to the work of the whole governing body.
What do governors need to do to carry out their role
Governors attend meetings of the full governing body three times a year (normally once a term). Most governing bodies have a number of committees or working groups and all governors are expected to join one or more of these. These usually meet once or twice a term. Governors need to be able to read the reports and papers circulated for these meetings and be prepared to ask questions about them. All new governors are strongly encouraged to attend the introductory course for governors.
Are there any reasons why someone can’t become a governor?
Almost anybody over 18 can serve as a governor but there are some understandable restrictions. No one can serve if they are barred from working with children or vulnerable adults, if they have severe mental illness such that they may be liable to be detained under the mental health act or if they are an un-discharged bankrupt. People with certain criminal convictions are ineligible depending on the nature of the offence and sentence and how long ago the offence took place:
- not have been sentenced to 3 months or more in prison (without the option of a fine) in the 5 years before becoming a governor;
- not have received a prison sentence of 2.5 years or more in the 20 years before becoming a governor;
- not have at any time received a prison sentence of 5 years or more;
- not have been fined for causing a nuisance or disturbance on school premises during the 5 years prior to or since appointment or election as a governor;
- not be disqualified from working with children.
Although full criminal records checks are not routinely required at the moment, any governor who refused to apply for one when asked to do so would be disqualified.
There are a few other restrictions which help protect the balance of interests on governing bodies. For example Local Councillors are eligible to be appointed as LEA governors but not as Community governors. There is also a requirement that people who are paid to work in the school for more than 500 hours in a year will not be able to be appointed to any category other than staff governor in that school.
Why do schools have governors
There have been school governors for at least 600 years although more recently they have been given more responsibilities and a higher public profile. They are part of a long tradition of involving lay people in policy making, as for example in local councils, or boards of health authorities and charities and they play an important part in local democracy and public accountability.
The governing body is responsible for setting the school budget and ensuring the money is being spent appropriately to obtain the best value possible. However, accountability is wider than finances. What happens in schools affects not only children and their parents but also the whole community. It is important that schools’ ethos, aims, values, priorities and practices have the support of that wider community.
What are the Criteria for LA (Local Authority) Governors?
All applicants must be at least 18 years old.
An LA Governor, like every other governor, acts as an equal member of a school’s governing body. In doing so, s/he shares in the duties and responsibilities of the governing body. Broadly, these are:
Within the legal framework to work in partnership with the Headteacher and the LA to raise standards of education
To monitor progress and support school improvement
In partnership with the Headteacher and staff to develop policies for the school that will support school improvement.
Is there a training programme?
There is a full training programme available to governors including induction training for new governors. The Cheshire Association of Governing Bodies holds a forum each term at which senior members of the Children’s Services Department are available. This is a good source of information for governors. There is also an annual conference for Cheshire Governors.
Further support, advice and information to governors are available from our website www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/education_and_learning/schools/school_governors.aspx